Zero Invasive Predators is conducting a trial predator removal operation in the Perth River valley in South Westland, which aims to remove all possums, and potentially rats, from 12,000 hectares of rugged back country.
If successful, this trial will provide important information about how 1080 can be used to completely remove predators from a large mainland area.
The Perth River valley is a mountainous area that contains a population of 75-100 kea. Predator removal operations that use 1080 are known to benefit kea populations, but these operations can kill individual kea if they eat toxic bait. With advice from kea experts at the Department of Conservation and the Kea Conservation Trust, ZIP has implemented measures to mitigate the potential risk to kea from the operation, including applying non-toxic cereal baits containing a bird repellent prior to the operation to ‘train’ kea to avoid baits, and distributing a small number of tahr carcasses above the operational area, to attract kea away from toxic baits.
We are also monitoring kea survivorship before, during and after the operation.
Between 12 February and 9 March 2018, 29 kea were fitted with transmitters to monitor their survivorship through the planned 2018 aerial operation. This included 19 adults (12 female and 7 male), and 10 juveniles. In June 2018, one additional adult female kea was fitted with a transmitter, bringing the sample up to 30.